01 April 2010

Fifth Street Closures


One of the significant changes to Fountain Square during it's reconstruction was the replacement of a steep wall along Fifth Street with shallow steps. This change opened up the square to Fifth Street. This gave me some concern at the time, because cars can travel pretty fast through this block, and there was no barrier to keep kids or others from walking out into traffic.

But there was a flaw in my logic. The old wall supported the notion that the street is meant for fast cars, and that we the pedestrian must be separated from them at all times. The better approach is to tame the car, not the pedestrian.

To that end, Council has passed an ordinance encouraging the closure of this block on some weekends. I hope this becomes a regular event in the summer, and I hope that other ways of reclaiming our public streets are found.
Qualls’ motion will create pedestrian-friendly Fifth Street

Fifth Street between Walnut and Vine Streets will be closed to through traffic to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment near Fountain Square for two upcoming festivals; if successful, the change could be expanded to include more weekends next summer....

“Streets are really the public living rooms of our communities,” Qualls said. “This will enhance what’s already a great public space in downtown by creating a richer variety of uses and activities in an environment where people feel comfortable, safe, and sociable.”

“Public spaces don’t have to be defined by parks or squares, said Fountain Square Managing Director Bill Donobedian. “The city has so many assets that can be repurposed so we can get more out of them. If we step back and ask ‘what if,’ Cincinnati can be as exciting and dynamic as any city, if not more so.”...

Cities across the United States are working to make public urban spaces with heavy pedestrian traffic more pedestrian-friendly by closing them to vehicular traffic, Qualls said. The most famous successful example is New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in February that the city would make the eight-month-old pedestrian plazas in Times Square and Herald Square permanent. The Broadway closure that created the plazas result in improved pedestrian safety and foot traffic – a 35 percent decline in pedestrian injuries, and a 63 percent reduction in injuries to drivers and passenger; foot traffic in Times Square increased 11 percent and in Herald Square by 6 percent, according to city data. The city banned vehicles on Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets and from 35th to 33rd Streets...


Anonymous said...

They close 5th ave in NYC each Saturday in Aug from 7 AM until 2 pm. and it is great jogging from 78th all the way to union square. Neat way to see the city (on foot).

Closing Vine or Main 1 day in the summer would be fun for all.

5chw4r7z said...

I would love to see 5th or Vine closed to traffic their entire(donwtown) lenght on Sundays.
Like anon said, NYC calls them Sunday Streets and they've been hugely popular.
LA has also has a very popular Sunday St program.
YAY city council for getting ahead of at least one curve.